Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: Year in review

Looking back at the year that was and looking forward to the year that will be.

2013 started off with a special election for Jesse Jackson's old congressional seat. He had resigned after his re-election in 2012 as a result of a federal investigation into his campaign finances. Jackson later pled guilty and sentenced to 30 months in prison and is currently serving his sentence.

BTW, his wife  former 7th Ward Alderman Sandi Jackson also plead guilty to federal charges involving her husband's campaign finances and is expected to serve her sentence of one year after Jesse Jr. completes his sentence. She also had resigned from her Chicago City Council seat.

In connection with that, State Senator Donne Trotter was one of the early aspirants to succeed Jesse Jr. in the 2013 special election until he had been charged with having a gun at O'Hare. One of our more popular postings of the year showed that he took a plea deal in connection with this incident. Before the plea deal he was forced to drop out of the 2nd Congressional district race that was ultimately won by Robin Kelly.

There were some other changes to the political scene on this part of town. Jesse Jr. and his wife Sandi weren't the only ones to go down thanks to federal charges. Former Alderman and Cook County Commissioner Bill Beavers vacated his office as a result of a guilty verdict for tax evasion in federal court. He was ultimately replaced by current Commissioner Stanley Moore.

If you read Worlee's post over at Concerned Citizen's of Chatham we see that there were some success stories in Chatham in 2013. New businesses opened such as Louis Groceries & Fleck's Coffee and also a new garden at 82nd & King Drive as well as Ruggles School being taken off probation. However there were still some negatives such as some new businesses not surviving and continuing conflict among the community organizations.

Also the Red Line underwent not only a reconstruction but a makeover as well. Many stations along the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line got new elevators for the handicapped. It was closed between May and October of 2013 with promises of faster and more reliable service. During those five months affected Red Line passengers took advantage of free shuttle buses to trains at Garfield on the CTA Green Line. That in addition to a .50 cent fare discount for bus rides south of 63rd Street. In addition to the closure and reopening of the CTA Red Line we're looking forward to 2014 is the start of the reconstruction of the 95th Street terminal which will remain open for its duration!

Also with 2012 ending at the Chatham 14 with the original owners ICE Theaters being unceremoniously evicted. 2013 started with our neighborhood movie house under new ownership and management. Many of the people who worked there and many in our communities are familiar with remain employed there. Over the holiday season they played host to a coat drive and a food/toy drive. Also any movie played there are now viewed in digital projection.

Over in Englewood, we've heard about Kusanya Cafe over the years and it's finally open for business. Also Whole Foods Market is expected to open in 2016 at the corner of 63rd & Halsted. The public opinion is basically anywhere from concern over the "dreaded G word" or how this could be a positive especially a new place to shop or more jobs. Still there were certainly concerns over whether or not Englewood residents can afford to shop there although the current plans are to sell items that are affordable at that location.

Also let's not forget the fight over a railyard expansion in Englewood. Many were active in fighting Norfolk Southern Railroad's attempt to buy off the many property owners in the area they sought to expand their railyard. Ultimately after some apparent concessions, the project was approved by the Chicago Plan Commission.

Speaking of retail, there's a new Walmart Supercenter in Chicago. It opened in the Pullman neighborhood in September. At the last minute direct bus service was implemented into the shopping center where the Walmart resides.

In any event, what shall we look forward to as we enter into the year 2014 here on the south side of Chicago. Also any stories you think we should add to the stories of the year 2013?

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